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The Plot Thickens (1936)

Approved | | Comedy, Drama, Mystery | 11 December 1936 (USA)
A priceless Cellini silver cup is stolen from a local museum with both Hildegarde and Oscar on the case.



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »


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Complete credited cast:
Alice Stevens
John Carter
Barbara Barondess ...
James Donlan ...
H. G. Robbins


John Carter just had one of those days. First he had an argument with a mysterious Frenchman. Then Alice wants him to pick her up at the park after she has a fight with Robert over him. So Carter takes the roadster just as Marie and Joe were getting ready to leave. But Kendall, the butler, follows the roadster as he thinks it is Joe and his girl Marie. So when Carter picks up Alice and goes out in the country to park - he is shot dead. But the next day, he is found dead in the library at home. The investigation may be run by Inspector Piper, but most of the snooping is done by Hildegarde. The Sultan's Emerald, and a picture of the Cellini Cup, may be the clue leading to Carter's killer. Written by Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama | Mystery






Release Date:

11 December 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Riddle of the Dangling Pearl  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Pitts replaced scheduled star because of illness. See more »


Hildegarde Withers: Now don't behave more stupid than is natural, Oscar.
See more »


Followed by A Very Missing Person (1972) See more »


Pretty Baby
Music by Egbert Van Alstyne and Tony Jackson
Lyrics by Gus Kahn
Played by the organ grinder in the park
See more »

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User Reviews

Zasu Pitts a respectable Hildegarde Withers
3 November 2011 | by (Minnesota) – See all my reviews

We did not know that Hildegarde Withers plays golf, but our first view of Zasu Pitts in the role shows her practicing her swing (indoors, no less). It seems she had a golf date with her good friend, Inspector Oscar Piper, which he has unfortunately broken: a case has come up, and Miss Withers—quickly recovering from her irritation at being stood up—hastens to the scene to assist in the investigation.

James Gleason is Inspector Piper once again, and gives his usual entertaining performance as the irascible detective with a soft spot for the school teacher who follows him around offering unsolicited crime-solving advice. Zasu Pitts as Withers delivers the usual dry Withers comments and is true to the character in her impatience with fools. (A policeman mistakenly arrests and handcuffs her, then tells her anything she says may be used against her, to which she replies, "Anything I say may be used against YOU—and that'll be plenty if you don't unshackle me at once!") Pitts looks good in the role, and she and Gleason make a snappy team. Considering that this was Gleason's fifth film in his role but Pitts was brand new to hers, the interaction between the two is impressively smooth.

The plot involves the murder of one John Carter, who is shot dead in a parked roadster a mere moment after attempting to kiss a girl who didn't want to be kissed and then laughing at her. Suspects abound, of course; complicating the plot is a possible case of mistaken identity, as various characters were out and about, tailing and being tailed, at the time of the murder. Why again was the body dragged from the roadster and (eventually) deposited in the murdered man's own library? --The plot does indeed thicken.

A solid supporting cast includes James Donlan as a goofy cop with an interest in astrology; Paul Fix as a nervous chauffeur; and Louise Latimer, who had just played a different role (but a similar character) in the Withers mystery immediately preceding this one.

No classic, but certainly an entertaining hour for those of us who enjoy this kind of thing: great character actors, some good dialog, and a plot that's a bit more complicated than really necessary.

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